Tuesday, September 21

It looked cloudy this morning and we feared another cool,damp day. Luckily by halfway to our first stop the sky was blue. We were docked at Russe,Bulgaria from where we drove south to the foothills of the the Balkan Mountains that cross the middle of the country. We began with a stop at Tsarevets - the King's Hill in Veliko Tarnovo. It's dramatic at the top of a hill with wall off in several directions. In a way it reminded me of the Great Wall of China.
From there we went to a hotel for morning coffee and cookies, then wandered along a cobblestone street of artisan's workshops and stores. There was some shopping and several people came back with bags. We didn't.
We drove to Arbanasi for lunch. Many courses and quite delicious! There were musicians and folk dancers to entertain while eating.
After lunch we walked to a 16-17th century church which was made to look like a stable to be as inconspicuous as possible on the outside since Christians were subject to persecution under the Ottoman Empire. The inside is lavishly decorated with many fresco icons and religious scenes.It was very impressive. I took a pass on the next stop, which was a salesroom for rose products. Roses thrive in parts of Bulgaria and their products are a big part of the economy. They include rose oil,rose water, brandy etc.
The final stop on this excursion was a wealthy merchant;s home from the 16/17th century. The eastern influences are conspicuous. There is a 'safe room' where the family sought refuge if the Ottomans raided their home.
Then back on the bus for the trip to our new port, Nikopol/Svistor.
Click Show below, then click Slideshow

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